Not Tonight, Dear

Nicca 3F 267

I shot this photo with an old Nicca 3-F rangefinder. It was manufactured in Japan in the mid-1950s, so it’s about as old as I am. The 3-F is a very, very close copy of the Leica IIIf. (I have one of those as well.)

I used a Canon 50mm f/1.8 Leica-thread-mount lens on the Nicca.¬†This lens is an inexpensive way to get into vintage rangefinder lenses. The Canon 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.2 lenses are both much more expensive. Most people consider the f/1.4 the best of the three lenses. I have all three, and they’re all fine lenses.

I took this shot on a cloudy winter day at Bredesen Park in Edina, Minnesota. I can’t remember the f-stop, but it appears pretty open–maybe f/4. I like the way the lens rendered the images. To me, the trees appear very three-dimensional.




Mamiya 220 Sunset 262I took this photo recently using my Mamiya C220. The C220 is a twin-lens reflex camera–that is, it has two lenses, one for taking and the other for composing. (I’ll post a photo sometime.) The upper lens is a “reflex,” in that it has a mirror and a fresnel lens to provide a viewing screen. The C220 shoots 120 film, a larger format than 35mm film. It also shoots on a square format (6×6 centimeters or 2 1/4″ square).

I shot this image using a 55mm lens, which is somewhat wide-angle–about the equivalent of a 35mm lens on a 35mm camera. I used Ilford Delta 100 with an orange filter to make the clouds more dramatic. The foreground is underexposed, of course. But I don’t mind.

Sadly, on the next roll of film, my C220 developed a fit of the vapors: it wouldn’t reliably advance the film. I took it in for repair–and purchased a 1938-vintage Zeiss Ikonta 532/16 to take its place temporarily.

I hope to get the C220 back soon. I like shooting it: it’s very, very intuitive, at least for an old hick like me.

The Old Hillbilly Goes Bowfishing Again

I have been driving down to southeast Missouri every now and then to see my two brothers. We are the last three of six siblings–seven if you count my half-brother, who was born in 1932. When I go down, I take a bowfishing rig and bowfish from bridges or banks. On my last trip, over Memorial Day weekend, I got quite a few fish, including this drum. I didn’t have a means of weighing it, but my brother and I both thought that it weighed between eight and ten pounds.

Bowfishing is a somewhat redneck sport–but it appeals to this old hillbilly. I enjoy the stalking and shooting. Shooting a fish underwater is difficult because of refraction: the fish will always be much lower than it appears from above. This fish was not very far away, but I aimed what appeared to be almost a foot below it.

It was hot down there: in the mid-90s, with tremendous humidity. On most summer days, the sky turns white down there from the haze. It’s not pollution: it’s just the humidity.

You should admire my stylish flip-up sunglasses. They’re actually useful: I keep flipping them up and down, depending on the light conditions.

Big Drum

White Rose

I recently learned about the White Rose student group that opposed Nazism in Germany during the early 1940s. I had already taken this photo. But it’s good to remember such folks.

One of the members, a young woman named Sophie Scholl, said this:

How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause? Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?

Let her example stir us all to action. And let us all, when we see a white rose, think of the decency and bravery of these folks.

B-W White Rose


Moon over Swede Lake

I took this shot a few weeks ago. I had gone out to Swede Lake, a shallow little lake west of the Twin Cities, to try a little bit of bowfishing. I didn’t see any carp–or any other fish, for that matter. But I did get a photo of the moon over the bow of my canoe.Moon over Swede Lake

An Ol’ Ditch Down Home; or, Another Assault on Our Environment

This ol’ hillbilly grew up (some–not all the way) down in southeast Missouri, just west of the Mississippi, south of the Benton Hills and east of Crowley’s Ridge. (You can look up Salcedo, Missouri, and Rootwad Township, if you’re interested.)

Back before the early 1900s, that area was largely wetlands. They called it “Swampeast Missouri.” But in the early part of the 1900s, land speculators encouraged the development of the Little River Drainage District (“LRDD”). The LRDD drained the Big Swamp, cutting wide, deep drainage ditches every mile. The drained land was logged and turned into farmland. Altogether, it was a greater effort than digging the Panama Canal. You can read a little bit about it here,¬†here, here, and here.

The Little River Drainage District opened up more than a million acres to agriculture. But it was one of the great environmental assaults undertaken on our country. Swampeast Missouri had been home to cypress swamps, bear, deer, panthers. But the loss of the wetlands habitat meant the loss of plant and animal communities. (This document discusses some of these issues in greater detail.) When I was a young man, there were no deer, bear , or wildcats of any kind through most of the area.

The assault continues. When this ol’ hillbilly was still a boy and young man, you could take a boat down most of the ditches any time of the year. I used to catch a lot of fish out of the ditches: largemouth bass, bluegill, perch, crappie, grass pike, bowfin–once even a striped bass. I never fished for catfish, but they were common in the ditches.

But when I visited back a couple of months ago,* I found the ditches almost dry. Folks have been taking water out of the land–not only by draining it, but also by pumping it out to irrigate croplands. And more area farmers are growing rice–a practice that involves flooding rice fields, allowing water to evaporate into the humid air. Water tables are falling. When I was young, our well was a sunk whopping thirteen feet. Now everyone is driving their wells deeper and deeper as the aquifer shrinks.

I took this photo of one of the area ditches when I visited in early September. Back in the late 1970s, this ditch would’ve had plenty of water in it, even in September. But when I saw it, it was almost dry.

A couple weeks ago, I happened to open an app on my phone and applied a filter to the photo. I sort of like the looks of it. It reminds me of old times back home.

Except that there ain’t hardly no water in that damned ditch.

Ditch Down Home

* That is, early September 2017.

Bass Lake Preserve

The Old Hillbilly took hisself a little walk around Bass Lake Preserve in St. Louis Park today. Yesterday was right chilly, and we got ourselves some snow last night. But it warn’t too awful cold today, and most of the snow has done gone and melted.

They call it Bass Lake, but I reckon they ain’t no bass in these here little shallow ponds that make up the “lake.” Most of ’em have done froze over. Most likely they’ll stay froze over ’til April. With the water bein’ as shallow as it is, they ain’t enough oxygen down there for no fish of any size.

Still, it’s a pretty enough spot. It ain’t but about a mile from the Old Hillbilly’s house, so I can get there in no time at all.

I cain’t figure out how to get these pitchers to pop up full size. Iffen they is one of you knows how to do that, I’d sure appreciate it. ‘Cause the pitchers is a lot better once you can actually see ’em.

I taken ’em all with my new Sony a6000 camera. I had an old Canon rangefinder lens on it for the one with the fungus and the one with the leaves in front of the frozen water. The rangefinder lens is an f/1.2, and I was shooting it wide open.

I used the kit lens for the other photo–the black-and-white one showing a bit more of the preserve. The kit lens is a 16-50mm. It’s pretty slow (f/3.5), but it ain’t a bad lens.

It’s Done Gettin’ Cold Here, Folks

It ain’t but November, but the little old ponds has done started to freezing over here in the Twin Cities. The Old Hillbilly took this photo the other day down at Bredesen Park, in Edina. It’s full of little ol’ shallow ponds. Ain’t no fish in ’em, of course, ’cause they’re too shallow: they freeze over during the winter, and the fish can’t get no oxygen. That’s not real healthy for ’em. It’s generally recognized that most critters need oxygen. Without it, they turn to mulch.

Anyway, the ponds are freezing over. The lakes will follow. Winter will settle on us: dark, quiet, and cold.DSC00054